Contact us

Subscribe to the Beyond Sport Bulletin

The email is not valid.

Contact us

+44 (0)20 7240 7700 [email protected]

5th Floor, 110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JS 119 W. 24th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011

Girl Power Organisation: Supporting the Development & Empowerment of Women

2022 Sport Together Fund Grantee Partner

April 6, 2023 

In celebration of today’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), we are honored to introduce our inaugural Sport Together Fund delivered by Beyond Sport beneficiaries. With an initial focus on promoting “Leadership Together,” the seven recipients are providing sports-based leadership training opportunities for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable communities that promote well-being and inclusivity.

Some description

First established in Denmark, Girl Power Organisation uses sport and education programming to empower and unify women and girls. Its mission is to provide meaningful ways for them to connect and to actively change the status quo for women and girls in the areas where it operates. The non-profit is also changing perceptions and creating future leaders while highlighting the valuable contributions to society of women and girls from all cultural and social backgrounds, especially ethnic minorities, refugees, immigrants and migrants.

Khalida Popal, former Afghan women’s national football team captain and an asylum seeker who settled in Denmark, founded Girl Power in 2014 based on her experiences with refugee centers. She realized that sports activities could instill new energy and life in refugee women, providing networking opportunities, a sense of belonging and a diversion from their challenging situations. In 2016, Girl Power Organisation was officially registered to use sport – specifically football – and leadership programs as inclusion and empowerment tools for women refugees and asylum seekers, as well as immigrants and migrants from minority communities. The non-profit has since expanded its activities to Germany, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and the UK where it works with displaced women from Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq and Iran, amongst other countries. 

Some description

The organization used its Sport Together Fund (STF) grant to help with costs for an expert-led residential ‘Girl Power Leadership Academy’ in the UK coinciding with the March 2023 recognition of International Women’s Day. Women and girls with refugee experiences took part in a five-day residential training program covering topics on local leadership, mental health, safeguarding, gender equality and professional development. 

Refugee experiences in Europe 

One of the barriers to involvement that ethnic minority and refugee women and girls face in places like Denmark and Europe is a lack of network and connection to local citizens. Another challenge is the language and cultural and social norms, which can make integration and inclusion tough. Through football, leadership and storytelling training, Girl Power is working to empower and inspire refugees, asylum seekers, minority ethnic groups and those from disadvantaged communities to use their journeys to spur personal and societal change.

Some description

The Leadership Academy engaged 30 women aged 18 to 30 from different countries who had been identified as community role models and were passionate about using sport and arts to help integrate new residents into society and build a strong network of sisterhood to reduce feelings of isolation. The grant helped to cover expert facilitator fees, residential accommodation, training materials and travel expenses for the young leaders. After the workshop week, the young leaders returned to their communities, and with the support of a Girl Power mentor, delivered their own sport projects in their community.

The training also included a program specifically focused on storytelling and presentation skills. Skills that six participants were able to put into practice at a March 21 youth conference in Yorkshire, England where they spoke on their journeys.

“Before the Girl Power Leadership Academy, I never thought that I had a story to tell that can inspire others and can be used as a good example. During the program, I learned to tell my story and practiced my English language skills. For the first time, I told my story to an audience of more than 20 people. It was a great experience and I felt empowered and motivated to keep being active,” said Mahdiya Mohammadi.

Some description

The STF grant will also help support a second Leadership Academy in Denmark for refugee women from Ukraine, Afghanistan and other countries in early May. 

“The opportunities to tell our participants stories is very important,” said Popal. “The incredibly inspiring stories of how these women have overcome challenges and barriers, yet still positively contribute to the societies they live in now, are essential to changing the narrative that exists around refugees. There’s a lot of hate and intolerance towards refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and Denmark and this is what we’re aiming to change by bringing these positive stories to light.” 

Beyond Sport launched the Sport Together Fund in 2022 to provide grants and capacity-building support to non-profit organizations, sports clubs and collectives who are assisting communities facing conflict, displacement, human rights violations and climate change disasters through sport. The Fund also supports the transit and host communities where people are rebuilding their lives. 

Learn more about all our Sport Together Fund Grantee Partners HERE. 


League of Tolerance: Helping To Integrate Ukrainian Refugees in Sweden

2022 Sport Together Fund Grantee Partner